New Developments of Bob

The newest member of our household, Bob the spider (Tegenaria spp. – or Eratigenia atrica apparently. Still reading up on this recent change) seems to have settled in quite happily. This is evidenced largely by the fact that an egg sac has appeared in her home (I’m pretty sure that’s what it is – gimmie a break, it’s my first spider). I expected this to happen, but I’m still unsure on the time scale of the life cycle – mainly hatching time. I’m looking into it as we speak.

Bob's Eggs 3

Much as I love Bob, and by extension her offspring, I’m not too keen on hundreds of the little buggers running about.

UPDATE: I forget the details, but Bob eventually became a happy mother of about 100 or so little spiderlettes. We released most of them into the close, so that the other appartments could reape the benefits of helpful arachnid companions.

More pics of Bob below. Continue reading

Posted in A-musings, Science!, Things That Make Me Happy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Pets

Ever since my field trip to Portugal (which I really must do a proper post for) I’ve been kind of fascinated by spiders. Partially as a result of this, and partially because it’s always nice to know where the potential source of hundreds of the little buggers is, we have a new pet.

Bob the spider

Say ‘hello, Bob!’

We first noticed Bob when she was sat above the window. Mainly, we noticed her because , for a house spider (Tegenaria ssp.), she is fucking huge. Relatively speaking. As in, without killing her and sticking her under a microscope to find out for sure, she might even be a gigantic house spider (T. gigantea), but as far as I’m aware they’re mostly restricted to the south. Then again, climate change and shit. Basically, she’s about 2cm in body length.

After a few days in a tupperware box, being fed whatever moths and flying bugs I could lure into the bathroom and catch, I decided to make things a bit better for the hairy lass. So, a quick trip to the shops netted a nice little glass tank for Bob and a little bug viewer with some crickets.

Bob seems quite happy, the crickets, blissfully aware of their fate, also seem happy.
Conclusion: Invertebrates make the best pets.

Bob Dinner II

Posted in A-musings, Microscopy, Science!, Things That Make Me Happy | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Literary Wall

My own little “National Short Story Writing Month” is coming along fairly nicely. What I mean by that is that I haven’t given up and broken down in tears. Or it least if I have broken down in tears (which I’m not saying I have!) then I certainly haven’t quit. And that’s the most important thing, isn’t it? Getting a story out of your head and down on paper can be a battle sometimes. Events don’t go the way you planned them, characters aren’t who you thought they were, sometimes the world itself – your world! – seems to be conspiring against you.  It’s easy to find yourself written into a corner with no satisfying way of getting things moving again. And even all of that assumes that you can actually beat the lazy and actually start putting the words down the first place. Other than not starting, giving up can often be the easiest thing to do with an unfinished story. Continue reading

Posted in A-musings, Inspiration | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


I have a horrible confession to make. I’ve just logged into the NaNoWriMo website and set myself up for National Novel Writing Month, 2012. That’s not the confession; it’s connected, but I’ll save that for later.

It was way back in 2007 that a good bunch of friends introduced me to National Novel Writing Month and it’s become a fun tradition for us every year since. For those who aren’t aware, NaNoWriMo is a fun way to try and write a 50’000 word novel during the month of November – that equates to writing around 1500 words every day for the entire month. It’s said that everyone has a novel within them, NaNoWriMo is a chance to get it out.

What I’ve always liked about NaNo (yep, we’re shortening the acronym even more) is that it can be as serious as you want it to be. I’ve seen some people treat it like a life or death situation while others simply enjoy just being a part of it. I’ve treated it differently every year I’ve participated. The one year I actually hit the target 50k was the most intense and satisfying fun I’ve ever had with a keyboard. Continue reading

Posted in A-musings, Inspiration | Tagged , | Leave a comment

An All New Mini-Series

“Mini” because it’s small stuff
As in microscopic.

Anyhoo, enough witty prose, I humbly present more pictures from down the lens – the objective lens, that is. Again, this is more life from my (thoroughly over grown with algae) fish tank. I ought to get around to cleaning it out at some point (gave the fish a water change last night). That said, as much as I’d like being able to see in from the sides, I love that I have my own little ecosystem working away in the corner. Of course, given the recent decrease in sunlight, the plant masses might not be so efficient at processing the nitrates/nitrites. But I digress.

I seem to be getting the hang of using this camera with the microscope, and this time I even have some video! I know! Scientific progress or what!?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Magnification (with a few slight exceptions due to the camera) is x1000.

Videos are below.
For the record, I have no idea what the first one is. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s a section of algae that’s been hollowed out and has other stuff inside the remaining cell wall. If anyone has any better ideas about the plethora of life present, bang it into a comment below.

Posted in Microscopy, Science! | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

They Came From Above

The ceiling, to be exact.

Yep, yesterday morning I awoke to the sound that every lower level flat owner fears to hear – the monotonous ‘tap’ of dripping water. This is not the first time I’ve been rained upon by ‘them upstairs’, but as someone who has better things to do than deal with insurance companies (don’t we all?), I dread the sound of a leak from above more than just about any other sound. Frankly, I’d rather be swimming off Amity Island and hear a cello start up than hear the sharp spat of a drip of water inside my flat.

Anyhoo, this time the cause isn’t so clear (previous incidents have involved washing machine overflows and clearly leaking taps). Given that we got a months worth of rain in one day last night (good thing climate change hasn’t kicked in, eh?) and there’s a small shrubbery where our shared guttering aught to be, it may be a case of  external getting internal. And there’s the pisser about this whole mess. Continue reading

Posted in Microscopy, Ramblings, Science! | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Going Underground

All of my past places of employment have had one thing in common:

I’ve wanted to build them all on my computer and run around shooting things in them.

For whatever reason, this past week I decided to give level building another bash, so I downloaded the Source SDK from Steam and set to work. After a few simple interiors to get the hang of things again, I started work afresh on a project that previously sent me running to the hills i.e. I gave up.

Can you tell what it is, yet?

I worked at a certain high profile visitor attraction in Edinburgh for over 4 years and spent a surprising amount of that time imagining what it would be like to run about shooting people there. Wait, that sounds bad.

Seriously, though, by it’s very nature it’s an excellent place for a game of ‘tag’
– a mix of narrow and wide spaces
– good general flow
– plenty of ‘over-crossing’ between areas
– hiding places (of course)

At the moment I’m building it with Counter Strike: Source in mind, but I think it could work pretty well as a single player map for Half Life as well.

It’s a pretty complex area, in terms of architecture (complex for a newbie builder like me, that is) but I’m going to try and be as true to the place as I can. I’m also going to concentrate on getting the general layout down on paper in Hammer before I start wasting all my time the fun part of lighting and effects.

Despite uni about to start, I really want to get this to some level of playability because, even for the small part I’ve built so far, it gives me a little burst of happy nostalgia running about this place.

Posted in Digital Media, Gaming | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment